Canon EOS 1D Mark III with no video capture
Starting with Olympus and now with Canon coming on strong, digital SLRs are starting to have the ability to preview live video feeds from their main sensors. This means you can flip up the reflex mirror and view through the lens what the final image will look like.

This is technically very interesting, but I'm simply amazed that no one has put one and one together: enable video capture on the SLR camera. And yes, I mean on pro models like the new EOS 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark III along with the plastic SLRs.

Now, before you "purists" roll your eyes and say that "that's what I have a camcorder for", let me explain. As a onetime working photojournalist, there have been many occasions where video capture would have been more appropriate. In many situations, I also won't necessarily be lugging around a camcorder; furthermore, the time it takes to sling the SLR, unzip my pack, dig out the camcorder, turn it on, wait for the tape to wind up and hit the capture button, the scene is all but gone. Yes, the decisive moment is wasted.

I'm sure many working photojournalists would agree. If you're embedded in Iraq, the last thing you need is another piece of gear to charge at night and jam with dust. You're already lugging a weather-resistant 3 pound SLR and sealed pro lenses, so why not put those to use when the event calls for video?

I've seen PJ's capture crappy 15 fps QVGA video on their camera phones for lack of anything better at hand. Sometimes, that footage ends up on international news. You've gotta admit there have been times where you wish you could capture it in video/audio rather than a still. My heart is definitely in the still image, but some subjects are better suited to motion.

Yes, I know there are some technical issues; the current split mirror setup will prevent autofocus when capturing video (a simple IR secondary system for video would overcome that), I'm sure the current video output resolution isn't great, yada yada. I'm sure your talented engineers can figure it out if you marketing types would actually task them on it. Anyhow, even with no autofocus and QVGA resolution, it's certainly better than what we have now.

There's another group which should also probably be drooling over this concept: the independent filmmaker. They'll need a boost in resolution (1920x1080 24p, we beg of you), but imagine capturing video on a true 35mm full frame sensor. Drool. No need for *total hacks* like the Letus 35. Ok, in reality, the Letus is an interesting solution to the sad reality of budget filmmaking: the lack of depth of field control. Now, instead of filming an image projected from a 35mm film lens onto vibrating ground glass (yeah, definitely a hack), you get native 35mm capture with all the original sharpness and quality.

So who's going to be the first?

Canon has awesome sensors, but I'm doubtful from a company whose SLRs still lack USB mass storage ability and have the most asinine mirror lockup UI on the planet; their idea of innovation is to remove RAW capture from compact cameras :O The inmates (marketers) are running the asylum at Canon.

Nikon has nice UI and wide angle lenses, but their sensors are whatever handouts Sony chooses to toss their way. In other words, they are always a few steps behind Canon, and they're still trying to convince the world that smaller cropped sensors are better; I guess they have little choice since they are incapable of making decent full frame sensors and Sony isn't offering them any.

Sony has live view sensors and is trumpeting their new small CMOS sensors with full res capture, but have yet to stick that into an SLR.

So who will be the first? Will it be one of the big two, or a dark horse like Pentax, Olympus or Panasonic? Pros and amateurs are waiting...
Letus 35 FE DOF hack